The Green Wall

When Squire Sanders relocated from Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, to new offices on 19th St NW, they left behind  a traditional wood paneled law firm motif and moved to a decidedly and perhaps radically modern “green” space.

The new offices received a Platinum LEED rating. It features conference tables made of concrete, glass and stone; panels made from recycled buttons and abundant amounts of glass which assure that everyone has a view of the outdoors. When was the last time you visited a law office with a two story “green wall” of live plants?

The Main Street Concept In planning for the new space Scott Bailey, the Director of Research Services, Nancy Kronstadt the Office Administrator and the architect Phil Olson of Alliance Architecture, developed an innovative “Main Street” concept which placed the library on the main traffic axis..

The old library had included a massive reference desk, a card catalog and loads of shelving.
In the new space, Baily was prepared to leverage digital resources and make dramatic cuts in the print collection. He successfully reduced the linear feet of library shelving from 7000 to 2000 linear feet. Instead of being marginalized by the space reduction, the library became the central hub of Main Street. It is located at the intersection of many critical flows. The staff are near the managing partner, the business development personnel, an active international trade group and the lunch room.

Library Without Walls They developed an open environment in which the boundaries of the library are not well defined. One of the most important impacts has been the improved integration with the ebb and flow of the firm which has increased lawyer demand for research services. The staff is more exposed to practice activities. Bailey sums it up this way “Being located within a high traffic area in this open office space has increased the visibility of our services and has remarkably increased our interactivity and workload with all of the practices.”

Library Coffee Bar
New projects have organically grown from proximity, awareness and opportunity. Lawyers have matched special needs for non-traditional library projects with the unique skills of the staff.
The library space features a coffee bar which invites traffic and conversation. It has become a social space – where lawyers can browse newspaper headlines and chat.

While the research staff regret the loss of privacy they embrace the heightened visibility.

The Squire Sanders “Main Street Library”  concept demonstrates the importance of collaboration in developing  innovative new models of information service delivery. By pulling down the walls, libraries invite new opportunities to broaden and deepen their involvement in supporting the business and practice of law.